Session 4-33: Casting

Octoburn

Active Member
In the case of height, the Hosts generally go for taller individuals since Elves are supposed to be tall and it would save on camera effects to make someone look tall. Last season (I can’t really say last year since it’s almost two years since that season), Conan Stevens (Boldog) was partially chosen for his height since he’s supposed to be the biggest Orc around.
To give an example, I’m not sure Jon Bernthal is imposing enough to be Rhogrin at 5’10”.
See, I have a problem with this thought process. There is a place for some of it, Thingol, for example, but Rog is never mentioned as overly tall. Jon Bernthal doesn't need to be tall to be imposing, just look at someone like Tom Hardy (who I believe is 5'9") playing Bane. Still imposing, still impressive, even against 6' Christian Bale. Things like height and hair color can be worked around. I would take a more talented actor who we have to frame differently or put a wig on, over an inferior actor because their physical characteristics match up.

This seems to be the case; I remember back in Season 2 when Christian Bale won the vote for Dragluin and the Hosts vetoed that because it was a famous actor in a relatively minor role, which they referred to as an overcast role; they thought it was wasteful. Something similar happened this year with Daisy Ridley as Meril, though the Hosts didn’t veto this time.
Sorry, but I do not consider Ridley anywhere near the talent of Bale. Yes, she's been the "star" of the Star Wars films, but I'm not that impressed with her abilities, in what I've seen.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
See, I have a problem with this thought process. There is a place for some of it, Thingol, for example, but Rog is never mentioned as overly tall. Jon Bernthal doesn't need to be tall to be imposing, just look at someone like Tom Hardy (who I believe is 5'9") playing Bane. Still imposing, still impressive, even against 6' Christian Bale. Things like height and hair color can be worked around. I would take a more talented actor who we have to frame differently or put a wig on, over an inferior actor because their physical characteristics match up.
The problem with Bernthal is that he'd have a lot of action scenes and if he has to wear heels, it would be harder and people like to make fun of that, with special mention going to Bryce Dallas Howard in Jurassic World with Chris Pratt parodying that.

He has to look physically imposing and I'm not sure if he can cut that; last season, the Hosts sent us back to the drawing board with Caranthir because they felt like our candidates were too waifish.

Sorry, but I do not consider Ridley anywhere near the talent of Bale. Yes, she's been the "star" of the Star Wars films, but I'm not that impressed with her abilities, in what I've seen.
The point is that they're wary of casting a big name in a small role.
 
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Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
The problem with Bernthal is that he'd have a lot of action scenes and if he has to wear heels, it would be harder and people like to make fun of that, with special mention going to Bryce Dallas Howard in Jurassic World with Chris Pratt parodying that.

He has to look physically imposing and I'm not sure if he can cut that; last season, the Hosts sent us back to the drawing board with Caranthir because they felt like our candidates were too waifish.


The point is that they're wary of casting a big name in a small role.
I doubt that there would be a lot of fight scenes filmed in heels. Those would be for scenes like Rhogrin walking down the street with Glorfindel and Ecthelion. Making an actor seem taller in a fight scene could be done by CGI-ing a slightly smaller Balrog or putting the shorter Elf soldier extras closest to Rhogrin or by simply ignoring the issue and letting the action of the scene distract the viewer from the height disparity.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
I assume this ship has already sailed, but the reason I am completely uninterested in casting is the restriction that the actors must be at their current age as of the time of that casting episode. My two-fold beefs are that a) if this was a real project, we wouldn't actually be casting S4 until some time in the future, closer to 2030 than 2020, so it's already not realistic and b) it's not a real project, so if I want to cast 1989 Tim Curry and not 2020 Tim Curry in something, that should be an equal level of fine.

That said, it seems like people enjoy it this way, and it's not the MikeSilmFilm project, and I don't demand to enjoy everything at all times, so I'm fine to let casting happen without my attention.
If this was a real project, the Tolkien Estate would be onto us like terriers around a rat cage.
 

Octoburn

Active Member
The problem with Bernthal is that he'd have a lot of action scenes and if he has to wear heels, it would be harder and people like to make fun of that, with special mention going to Bryce Dallas Howard in Jurassic World with Chris Pratt parodying that.

He has to look physically imposing and I'm not sure if he can cut that; last season, the Hosts sent us back to the drawing board with Caranthir because they felt like our candidates were too waifish.


The point is that they're wary of casting a big name in a small role.
But then there's 5'9" Tom Hardy fighting 6' Christian Bale:


Again, he doesn't need to be tall to be intimidating. Bernthal's presence and intensity is intimidating, even at only 5'10".

I believe the Caranthir guys weren't rejected for their height, but because they were gangly, and they wanted someone tougher looking, not necessarily taller.

Daisy Ridley is still not a "big name" to me. She's started in a few big movies, but so have Sam Worthington and Taylor Kitsch.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Oh, I assure you, it is very much true. They guard their rights jealously, and we would get slapped with a 'cease and desist' very, very quickly. Now, if the rights were for sale and we were to buy them...that would be a different matter entirely.


Okay, a few points....

One, the hosts did not choose Nell Tiger Free for Idril based on her name. They looked at the three finalist actresses and discussed what they'd seen them in before (Lily James in Cinderella/Downton Abbey, and Nell Tiger Free in Game of Thrones; I don't think either Corey or Trish had seen Edit: Chloë Grace Moretz in anything). The preference for Nell Tiger Free was based on her age - she's 20, and they wanted her to still look quite young when we get to the Tuor in Gondolin Season (Lily James is 30). After that choice was made, Corey joked about what a great name she had and of course he had to go with her, but that was not the impetus for the choice.

Two, the nomination process already involves people listing a reason why they see that actor in that role, posting (up to 3) photos, and listing name/age/link to IMDB page. Many nominations include a video clip in lieu of one of the photos, but we haven't required it, as not all actors are well represented on YouTube. So, the information is certainly available for anyone who wants to look at the nominees before voting. It's true that the Hosts don't look at that during the casting session, typically (I think maybe for Season 2 they did?), with the thought being that more info is available on the imdb page. Also...it's...probably not a good idea...for them to play random clips from movies/TV shows on their podcast. It would take up a lot of time, and there'd have to be some previewing in effect.

Three, our current restrictions on nominations are that people must be a) alive, b) have an imdb page, and c) not already be cast in this project (except for voice roles). There are certainly cases where people are arguing for an actor/actress based on their earlier work, but the 'current age' thing is meant to give the veneer of realism - that we could call up their agent and offer them the role. I realize that eliminating past actors might limit the fun in some ways. And that, yes, it's not unusual for a casting director to be told 'we want a young Harrison Ford - handsome, action hero, good comedic sense, roughly 30 years old' or 'somebody creepy like Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter' or something like that. So, yes, *if* we were going to do this project for real, we'd have to come up with casting sheets for each character and throw out all of our famous-and-way-too-expensive-and-by-the-way-not-interested marquee actors and set our casting director loose on binders of headshots from actors with little to no established work. Or just use the actors our directors have pre-established relationships with. Etc.



For me personally, the casting process is meant to be a fun game. You can imagine different actors in the roles, and consider what you would want their performance to look like. But like all aspects of this project - it does involve making choices. You can only put one actor in each role, so if you really, really wanted someone to be cast....then you'd naturally be disappointed if/when that person is not chosen. More popular/famous actors naturally have an advantage, as lots of people have seen them in roles and can picture them playing a certain part. They're more likely to win in the voting, and it's more likely to sway the hosts of the podcast. We have cast a handful of complete nobodies in this project (Arien, Vana, and Denethor aren't exactly well-known actors, I don't think), but I freely acknowledge that most of our choices have solid name recognition (especially among our geeky podcast listeners!).

When I nominate someone, I think of a performance that person has done that conveyed something of what I hope to see in that character. So, when I nominated Henry Cavill for Maedhros, I was considering how he portrayed Charles Brandon in The Tudors - there was a long-suffering aspect to that character, and a shift into greater maturity - but more importantly, he did that all in a very sympathetic way. The audience was rooting for him. I thought that would be a good look for Maedhros. When I nominated Andrew Garfield for Finrod, I was thinking about how good that actor was about wearing his heart on his sleeve and being completely open and vulnerable to everyone in Silence. For this season, I watched some clips of Joanna Vanderham in The Paradise, and noticed that she was very good at seeming to be bursting with energy and intention, but completely restrained. She said a lot when she wasn't talking. I thought that would be perfect for Idril, who has a quiet/contemplative personality, but is a key character. None of those actors were chosen for those roles, and I'm fine with that. I'm not saying that the other options aren't good. I'm just explaining my process in putting forward nominees.

So, yes, there are basic criteria of age/height/build that might make someone lean towards or lean away from a particular actor. Not everyone 'looks' like an elf or a dwarf or whatever. Sometimes, there's been some effort to make sure actors look like they can be in the same family. But to actually cast someone, we'd want a little more than that. So, I encourage people. when you are watching movies or TV shows or whatever....to think about whether or not you could see this actor portraying someone in our project. And then join the conversation at the nomination stage!
 
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Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Oh, I assure you, it is very much true. They guard their rights jealously, and we would get slapped with a 'cease and desist' very, very quickly. Now, if the rights were for sale and we were to buy them...that would be a different matter entirely.


Okay, a few points....

One, the hosts did not choose Nell Tiger Free for Idril based on her name. They looked at the three finalist actresses and discussed what they'd seen them in before (Lily James in Cinderella/Downton Abbey, and Nell Tiger Free in Game of Thrones; I don't think either Corey or Trish had seen Chloe Martinez in anything). The preference for Nell Tiger Free was based on her age - she's 20, and they wanted her to still look quite young when we get to the Tuor in Gondolin Season (Lily James is 30). After that choice was made, Corey joked about what a great name she had and of course he had to go with her, but that was not the impetus for the choice.

Two, the nomination process already involves people listing a reason why they see that actor in that role, posting (up to 3) photos, and listing name/age/link to IMDB page. Many nominations include a video clip in lieu of one of the photos, but we haven't required it, as not all actors are well represented on YouTube. So, the information is certainly available for anyone who wants to look at the nominees before voting. It's true that the Hosts don't look at that during the casting session, typically (I think maybe for Season 2 they did?), with the thought being that more info is available on the imdb page. Also...it's...probably not a good idea...for them to play random clips from movies/TV shows on their podcast. It would take up a lot of time, and there'd have to be some previewing in effect.

Three, our current restrictions on nominations are that people must be a) alive, b) have an imdb page, and c) not already be cast in this project (except for voice roles). There are certainly cases where people are arguing for an actor/actress based on their earlier work, but the 'current age' thing is meant to give the veneer of realism - that we could call up their agent and offer them the role. I realize that eliminating past actors might limit the fun in some ways. And that, yes, it's not unusual for a casting director to be told 'we want a young Harrison Ford - handsome, action hero, good comedic sense, roughly 30 years old' or 'somebody creepy like Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter' or something like that. So, yes, *if* we were going to do this project for real, we'd have to come up with casting sheets for each character and throw out all of our famous-and-way-too-expensive-and-by-the-way-not-interested marquee actors and set our casting director loose on binders of headshots from actors with little to no established work. Or just use the actors our directors have pre-established relationships with. Etc.



For me personally, the casting process is meant to be a fun game. You can imagine different actors in the roles, and consider what you would want their performance to look like. But like all aspects of this project - it does involve making choices. You can only put one actor in each role, so if you really, really wanted someone to be cast....then you'd naturally be disappointed if/when that person is not chosen. More popular/famous actors naturally have an advantage, as lots of people have seen them in roles and can picture them playing a certain part. They're more likely to win in the voting, and it's more likely to sway the hosts of the podcast. We have cast a handful of complete nobodies in this project (Arien, Vana, and Denethor aren't exactly well-known actors, I don't think), but I freely acknowledge that most of our choices have solid name recognition (especially among our geeky podcast listeners!).

When I nominate someone, I think of a performance that person has done that conveyed something of what I hope to see in that character. So, when I nominated Henry Cavill for Maedhros, I was considering how he portrayed Charles Brandon in The Tudors - there was a long-suffering aspect to that character, and a shift into greater maturity - but more importantly, he did that all in a very sympathetic way. The audience was rooting for him. I thought that would be a good look for Maedhros. When I nominated Andrew Garfield for Finrod, I was thinking about how good that actor was about wearing his heart on his sleeve and being completely open and vulnerable to everyone in Silence. For this season, I watched some clips of Joanna Vanderham in The Paradise, and noticed that she was very good at seeming to be bursting with energy and intention, but completely restrained. She said a lot when she wasn't talking. I thought that would be perfect for Idril, who has a quiet/contemplative personality, but is a key character. None of those actors were chosen for those roles, and I'm fine with that. I'm not saying that the other options aren't good. I'm just explaining my process in putting forward nominees.

So, yes, there are basic criteria of age/height/build that might make someone lean towards or lean away from a particular actor. Not everyone 'looks' like an elf or a dwarf or whatever. Sometimes, there's been some effort to make sure actors look like they can be in the same family. But to actually cast someone, we'd want a little more than that. So, I encourage people. when you are watching movies or TV shows or whatever....to think about whether or not you could see this actor portraying someone in our project. And then join the conversation at the nomination stage!
The name of the third actress in the tie for Idril was Joanna Vanderham, not Chloe Martinez.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Pretty sure Jon Bernthal is intimidating as all get out.

Here's him talking about the (real life) street fight he got into where a guy didn't get up (language warning):

Here's the trailer for Ghost Recon:

Here's a scene of him as the Punisher taking out a bunch of big guys with gym weights (violence warning):

Even in a scene without a lot of fighting in it, he's still physically intense. Here he is as Shane on The Walking Dead:

He has broken his nose 14 times (partly because he was a boxer, but still...14. That doesn't just...happen.)

So, uh, yeah...I think he's just fine as our blacksmith Rhogrin who can wield a hammer and really, really hates the minions of Angband.
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I doubt that there would be a lot of fight scenes filmed in heels. Those would be for scenes like Rhogrin walking down the street with Glorfindel and Ecthelion. Making an actor seem taller in a fight scene could be done by CGI-ing a slightly smaller Balrog or putting the shorter Elf soldier extras closest to Rhogrin or by simply ignoring the issue and letting the action of the scene distract the viewer from the height disparity.
The easiest way to minimize or alter height differences between actors is to use apple boxes. In cases where the actor has to walk across a scene, they can construct a runway on set where that actor will be walking to allow the camera to track them with another actor in a fairly close cut. Patrick Stewart often had to stand on a box for his role as Captain Picard.

A tall actor can also be asked to stand with a wide stance (feet far apart) so that their height will drop a few inches, and from the torso up, they look normal.

Or you can have one character seated, or block a scene while someone is walking up or down stairs. Or have one person much nearer the camera than the other.

The actor who plays Turgon is 6'5". Obviously, you'd have to employ all of those tricks and more to film him with all of the other characters. Really, it's a question of videography, not casting.

Also, I feel the need to point out that when you give a character platform shoes to boost the actor's height a few inches, you don't choose stilettos. Especially not for action scenes. You use sensible boots or lifts.

Robert Downey Jr in heels for Iron Man:


Robert Downey Jr again, this time in street clothes, but still with wedge shoes.


If you watch this stylized fight scene from Into the Badlands closely, you'll see that she's wearing the stiletto boots when she walks in, when she walks along the bar, and when she walks out. And she's wearing much more sensible boots for all the rest.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Pretty sure Jon Bernthal is intimidating as all get out.

Here's him talking about the (real life) street fight he got into where a guy didn't get up (language warning):

Here's the trailer for Ghost Recon:

Here's a scene of him as the Punisher taking out a bunch of big guys with gym weights (violence warning):

Even in a scene without a lot of fighting in it, he's still physically intense. Here he is as Shane on The Walking Dead:

He has broken his nose 14 times (partly because he was a boxer, but still...14. That doesn't just...happen.)

So, uh, yeah...I think he's just fine as our blacksmith Rhogrin who can wield a hammer and really, really hates the minions of Angband.
Not to mention, there's this....

 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Generally speaking, someone who has been trained in boxing, martial arts, or something similar is able to bring a certain level of physicality to a fight scene that someone who has not...cannot. Of course, experience with dance or ice skating or something similar can serve the same purpose, of having an ease with moving your body the way you need to to match the choreography, too. If an actor or actress doesn't have this background, they can either use stunt doubles, or have scenes where the person they are fighting makes it look good. But there is something to be said for someone being a trained fighter!

Mark Pellegrino (who plays Lucifer on Supernatural) is a boxer. They're able to show him throwing full speed punches, because he has the self-control not to actually punch the other guy and knows where to stop.


Ray Park (Darth Maul) can do some pretty fancy and impressive kicks, changing direction in the middle of one, getting someone in the chin, etc. No doubt his martial arts background helps the choreography!


Sarah Michelle Gellar had done some martial arts training before being cast as Buffy (I wanna say jujitsu, maybe? Edit: Brown belt in tai kwan do), and she definitely brought that up at the casting session.
 
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Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Generally speaking, someone who has been trained in boxing, martial arts, or something similar is able to bring a certain level of physicality to a fight scene that someone who has not...cannot. Of course, experience with dance or ice skating or something similar can serve the same purpose, of having an ease with moving your body the way you need to to match the choreography, too. If an actor or actress doesn't have this background, they can either use stunt doubles, or have scenes where the person they are fighting makes it look good. But there is something to be said for someone being a trained fighter!

Mark Pellegrino (who plays Lucifer on Supernatural) is a boxer. They're able to show him throwing full speed punches, because he has the self-control not to actually punch the other guy and knows where to stop.


Ray Park (Darth Maul) can do some pretty fancy and impressive kicks, changing direction in the middle of one, getting someone in the chin, etc. No doubt his martial arts background helps the choreography!


Sarah Michelle Gellar had done some martial arts training before being cast as Buffy (I wanna say jujitsu, maybe?), and she definitely brought that up at the casting session.
It would definitely help a lot if an actor knew what they were doing due to prior experience. If you have stunt doubles, you also have to be careful that they mesh well with the actor’s appearance; one of the reasons why Roger Moore’s last Bond film A View to a Kill is mocked is that it’s horribly easy to spot when Moore is onscreen and when he’s been replaced by a stunt double.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
All TV shows with any sort of action sequences utilize stunt doubles, because you can't afford to have your main actors get hurt. If a stunt guy ends up in the hospital, that's unfortunate, but the show can go on. You need your lead actors to be on set the next day, and to shoot the next episode in the next week. Obviously, you want actors who can do their own stunts (to a point), but there is certainly not going to be a goal to produce something with battle scenes without the use of stunt doubles. It's up to costuming and directors and coordinating between the actor and the stunt double to make the transition seamless and invisible.
 
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